|Volume 21 Number 12 December 2019||
Gary C. Hampton
Worship is an essential feature of the assemblies of the saints. It is a time for the family of God to join together in praising the Father. Acceptable worship must involve both spirit and truth (John 4:24). We might use the heart to describe what is meant by the word “spirit.”
Our hearts must be filled with purity. The Psalmist said the one who would be with God in His holy place must have clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4). God’s instructions to Jacob to go to Bethel resulted in him telling his family, “…Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves and change your garments” (Genesis 35:2 NKJV). David keenly felt the guilt of his sin and asked God to create in him a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).
Our hearts should bow in humility. One singer declared, “…I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7 NIV). Peter instructed scattered Christians to humble themselves before God (1 Peter 5:6). Habakkuk reported, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20 NKJV).
We should also raise our voices in praise to God because of what is in our heart. “I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” was proclaimed by a singer of Israel (Psalm 7:17). Another singer said, “I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2). Moses and the children of Israel sang praises to God after He drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. Miriam and the women also praised the Almighty (Exodus 15:1-2, 21).
We should truly be glad when they say to us, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). It is a wonderful opportunity to praise God from our hearts.
God’s Broken Heart
The Book of Hosea is unique from this perspective: God took charge of a priest’s life and sent him on a journey of love, heartbreak, desertion and reclamation. Before Hosea uttered a word of prophecy, according to the account, he was commanded to marry either a prostitute or a woman with wandering eyes. This was a technical violation of the law, for priests were to marry only virgins (Leviticus 21:14).
As expected, the wife proved herself unfaithful, and Hosea had to deal with the betrayal. Finally, she deserted him, was kidnapped and was taken into slavery. Hosea found her and had to buy her back for himself. He told her the new rules of the house to try and reclaim her heart (Hosea 3:1-3).
God used Hosea’s worn, broken heart to voice His prophecy to unfaithful Israel. The mournful tones are evident to the reader. “…‘She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,’ says the LORD” (Hosea 2:13b). “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away” (Hosea 6:4). “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred” (Hosea 11:8).
How sad and terrible that we would treat God so! How amazing and wonderful that He would have us feel His heart of love toward us (Romans 5:8)!